Undercounter freezer - which one?

lalitharSeptember 6, 2011

We are considering going with an under-counter freezer instead of a full sized one. The primary reason is to maximize the counter space. What would be better - freezer drawers like sub-zero has or one with a regular door. Any recomendations for brands or advice for features that are useful? There also seem to be other brands like perlick, marvel, summit and u-line. Are these reasonably quiet and reliable?

We do not have a separate ice maker, so an integrated ice maker will be useful. However, we are not big consumers of ice.. I occasionally use a cube for chilled drinks and DH suggests we can just buy a small bag of ice and store it in the freezer - I had read that ice makers are brone to problems, so is this a good idea?

We have a 30" all fridge (miele). Originally I was thinking to pair it with an 18" freezer or consider one of the 24" ones. If later, we need additional freezer space, we may consider a chest freezer in the pantry or the garage.

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If this is your only freezer and you have a Miele fridge - only one choice: sub zero 700 series drawers.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 5:51PM
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Under counter drawer units:

Marvel (all refrigerator)

True residential (all refrigerator)

Perlick (all freezer) One of the best on the market.

Summit uses other manufactures and rebrands the products.

U-Line (top fridge bottom freezer) A great price and an option for an icemaker . This won't give you the freezer space that you need.

Ariston (all fridge)

An under counter front door freezer will be difficult to use for everyday life. If you are big on cooking truly fresh food and rarely use the freezer then I guess it could work? I only see someone using an under counter freezer as their only freezer on a boat.

If you go with the front door under counter freezer the noise you hear from the unit all depends on where you'll be in relations to it. If this is in the kitchen and your morning routine is to sit by it and read the paper then you might hear the compressor start if the house is very quiet. Then again you might not hear anything at all if you have the tv going and other kitchen appliances. Its a very hard thing for anyone to firmly tell you. Adding an icemaker to the mix will bring noise no matter who the manufacturer is.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 6:05PM
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I am planning on the Miele 36" all fridge. I will have a freezer drawer ad well I don't need an ice maker. Will hookup old fridge/freezer in garage w/ ice maker line. I plan on using the Fisher Paykel Cool Drawer. This is a single drawer but can be used as a freezer, fridge, pantry, Wine Fridge and Beverage Fridge. Figured this gave menthe most flexibility.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 6:31PM
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a chest freezer is a great way to go. There are many advantages. The only disadvantages are that you may feel it's inconvenient to have long-term storage underneath the wire baskets holding short-term storage, and secondly that you have to walk to it instead of having it be there with you in the kitchen.

It sounds like the way you live you do not need a freezer right next to you in the kitchen. Some people take things out of the freezer and put them into the microwave every morning and every evening.

If you do get a drawer freezer, along with a chest freezer, you will have the advantage of one being colder and one warmer. Then, the warmer one can hold sherbet and ice cream.

I have an all-fridge.
2 drawers 36" wide.

Do not get a combo fridge-freezer: the two different cooling circuits take up a lot of space. Even in my all-fridge (a single cooling circuit) and even with it being 36" wide, I find that it doesn't hold as much as I thought it would.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 6:36PM
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We are doing a 36" all fridge and a kitchen aid fridge/freezer drawer, and will have a full size freezer in our laundry room which is not too far away. I wanted essentially enough room to store waffles, ice cream and frozen berries for smoothies. Meats, leftovers, pizza, frozen veggies, etc. are all stored in our current garage freezer anyway so I really just wanted the things we use daily (frozen berries) or the things we use first thing in the am or for dessert after the meal is made in the kitchen freezer. The SZ freezer drawers were so expensive and we really didn't need that much immediate freezer space. I also liked the idea of fridge drawers for kids snacks, yogurt, overflow milk jugs (we buy 4 at a time), etc.

We will also have an ice maker (even though the KA fridge drawers have an ice maker in them). We are not going to hook up the KA ice maker - may not even run water to it - as it is across the kitchen in more of a kids snack zone area and not convenient for filling glasses, etc. Hoping this is the right decision because we have configured the appliances about 10 different ways!!!!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 8:50PM
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Looks like Subzero and perlick are the 2 all freezer drawer options. Pricey options :( Any feedback on Marvel and the commercial brand True which also has freezer drawers? Besides sub-zero, can any of these be fully integrated with cabinetry?

Any negatives about buying ice instead of an ice maker?

Davidro --> For chest freezers, which brand/ type would you recommend? The manual defrost and the automatics seem to be 2 ends of the price spectrum. If you can live with the hassle (I have no idea how much of a hassle), do manual chest freezers "freeze well"?

Athensmom --> I really liked the kitchenaid combo drawers. You can just not use the ice maker and remove the tray.. Will make a great point of use unit. As we decided to do a 30" all fridge, I am going to do just freezer drawers.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 1:34AM
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Make ice, not buy. (you hardly use any to begin with, so don't overthink this). Yes, you may buy ice too.

Passive freezer is best for all purposes. Ice cubes don't get evaporated.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 6:15AM
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Plllog has a Marvel. Subzero and Perlick are pricey all freezer drawer options, and not passive. But, I would buy one in combination with a passive chest freezer.

Commercial brands, like True and Summit, will make commercial noise.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 6:21AM
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All of these are going to be "pricey" they are not commodity units.

Only the SubZero can be fully integrated meaning it accepts panels flush with adjacent cabinetry and accommodates matching cabinetry toekick! Several will accept panels though.

Nice list ash but:

Marvel - no all freezer option

True - ditto, no freezer option at all, and they are not widely distributed or consumer friendly.

Perlick - nice units, not widely available though.

Summit - a joke

U-Line - again no all freezer and panels are a bear.

Ariston - no freezer option and only a half hearted attempt to even be in this country.

ADDITIONALLY, all of the above mentioned units are 24" wide and ARE NOT a good choice for one's only freezer storage in a kitchen. If you want to fully integrate like lalitha apparently wants to do - all on that list stink for doing that.

Some of those would be good choices if you were looking for an alternative the the SZ fridge drawer or even a combo unit. They would be the ONLY choice if you needed something in 24" but lalitha didn't ask about any of that.

If you want a drawer freezer for your kitchen and will not have any additional freezer space, there is still only one real choice: subzero 700bc(i)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 3:06PM
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You did not mention the Fisher Paykel in your list, as I referenced above. No one has any postings positive or negative about the unit so don't know. I have this model currently listed as an option in my plans since:

I did not have any 24" or 27" drawer spaces to give up. I had a perfect spot that was 35.5" wide for this model. I did not need Ice in the kitchen (I have my older fridge that will be hooked up in the garage close by for that use). We don't use the freezer for that many things besides Ice cream and a few other things. Many things that do end up there end up in the trash 12 months later :). This is the only drawer model that you can adjust its functionality with 5 modes. It can be a freezer, a fridge, Pantry storage or beverage/wine fridge. If I want to use it for a party for beverages or extra fridge storage, I can take the freezer items out and put the in the garage. From what I see, this model too can be fully integrated. However, it is a larger single drawer. It slips into an open cabinet cavity vs. a unit like the others above that sit on the floor.

Do you have any feedback on this model?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 3:53PM
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I saw it when it was brand new.

For you, it might be a good splurge because of your freezer use and because you have a specific slot for it. You are unique in these two things.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:43PM
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I want to correct a couple of misconceptions regarding U-Line products above:

1) The combination refrigerator/freezer drawer's (U-Line model number C2275DWR) components do not take more room than a typical refrigerator drawer, and you do not lose space. The top drawer is 3 cu. ft., while the bottom (freezer) drawer is 2 cu. ft. This is typical for all undercounter drawer units, that space is lost in the bottom drawer for the compressor.

2) As far as panels being a bear, I would recommend that antss take a look at how panels are currently installed on U-Line products. While several years ago, panels were (admittedly) very difficult, they are among the easiest to install now, and give options to better integrate into cabinetry.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 9:30AM
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point #1 may be all true, but it may need a little tweaking too.

Between the two separate compartments in a fridge freezer combo is a separation wall, which is as thick as any freezer wall even though it only separates the freezer from another refrigerated compartment. So, to begin with, this insulated separator TAKES UP space, which has to come from somewhere, as there is a finite quantity available inside the box. So it is an absolute certainty that there will be less space available.

Secondly, Never Believe as "fact" the nominal Cubic Feet that manufacturers publish. These numbers they publish are rough, like orders of magnitude. They are not the physical reality numbers that you get when you measure the inches inside all by yourself. The numbers they publish are not lies or mistakes. They are just rough indicators. Some manufacturers have marketing people who use these numbers more loosely than others. In the commercial refrigeration market, the numbers have to be close to the truth. In the residential market, the numbers are very far off.

Multiply the height width and "depth" in inches and you get the volume in cubic inches. Divide by 1720 to convert to cubic feet. Measure it yourself. Use a tape measure.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 11:47AM
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1.) not to nit pick but: If you add the icemaker option to your lower drawer you will lose that space for storing ,say icecream, but this it's a zero sum game when you add an icemaker to any freezer you have to give up storage space. This is not an advantage or disadvantage, or limited to your product only.

Secondly, 2 cu. ft. isn't much and it's lees when you have an icemaker in there. Good for storing frozen drink mixes, a few mugs and some martini glasses, but hardly enough freezer space for a family's deep freeze needs. And, it's two tiered, again great for organizing bar stuff , not so good for everyday stuff.

If it's 2 cf without the maker - I apologize, but the storage space is still limited for a family freezer. If your top drawer was a freezer too, you'd be in a better position.

2.) Re: the installation ease - the newer models are easier than the previous generation but on everything else you are either way biased or just plain wrong!

1. in order to level you units one must pull the unit out of the opening multiple times in order to get it level because you Do Not Provide rear leg adjustment from the front of the unit !

2. Your toe kick vents do not allow cabinetry toekick to be placed in front of them for a fully integrated install. Even if we went to the trouble of milling vent holes in our kick lik shown in your after the fact toekick section, it would still be well to far forward to be of use. Toekick recess is typically 3-4" and with your set up 1 1/2" is about all you'll get at the end of the day. Furthermore, milling the slots in veneered toekick on either plywood or particleboard substrates leaves unsightly raw wood showing in the cutouts. This eliminates 99.5% of any euro cabinet makers from the game , most of who's customers are looking for a fully integrated look.

3. Your water hookup is at the rear - again the installer must have all the connections completed before the unit is placed back in the opening, and has to hope he doesn't kink the line while doing so. Our guys find that front hookups are much easier and less hassle. I agree this is personal pref., but I and my guys have put in everyone's units and we like what's easiest and are not wed to any particular brand out of necessity.

3. The overlay panels are still not as easy as a SZ or other brands that use a bracket system. First I have to disassemble the handle and gasket to get to the mounting fasteners. On the SZ, you just remove some tape and open a bag of screws that are provided. Secondly, we have to have a 1/4" backer panel made to a specific size that tehn must be attached to the 3/4" drawerfront and then slid in the track and then the plastic plug screwed on and then massaging the gasket back into place , which if done in a hurry or sloppy is going to cause an air leak and a service call.

After that the panel dance starts: lining up the panels with their adjacent cousins is near impossible. If the installer wants to adjust it by moving the position of the 1/4" panel he gets to remove the gasket and the screws and repeat. He could also pull out the drawer and start fiddling with the drawer runners themselves, but that's not particularly easy and screws with the runner's geometry which isn't ideal either. On top of that, your standard gap between drawers is 1/2" ! No cabinet makers have a 1/2" between panels - it'd look ridiculous. 3mm (1/8") is what we typically use.

The SZ by comparison can be level entirely from the front while the unit is in it's opening. The water hookup is in the front of the unit too, so the hose binding is not a problem and he can see what he is doing at all times and easily verify leaks. The panels uses two brackets the installer fastens to the drawer panel based on an included template, and the brackets mate to slots and screws that allow vertical and horizontal movement to align them with adjacent panels. No messing with the drawer runners is necessary. No additional backers are needed to attach the drawer panel to the unit. Installers don't need to think about or go looking for screws to attach the panel - they're all included.

Lastly, and most importantly your units have NO ATTACHMENT provision! They are free standing which is fine - except if you are trying to fully integrate. Units that move lead to mis -alignment of panels which lead to unhappy homeowners and service calls for us.

Doug - I'm not looking to slam U-Line or say it that the SZ 700 series is a better product, or pick a scrap here. I simply don't think you guys have a product to meet lalitha's needs IN THIS INSTANCE. I also don't think your units are easier to install than competitors, and I'm not alone in this regard. In this regard I think I/ we are in a good position to comment on this subject as we have and continue to use all brands so we have a good sampling out in the real world. It simply depends on the particular customer's need and the product itself with regard to ease of installation.

I think U-line makes some very good products and I have one in one of my homes. I think their 2275 double drw wine captian is THE CAT"S MEOW. Also, the SZ drawers have limitations too! Only come in 27" which is a HUGE problem in many wet bars especially from a design perspective as nothing else is that size and it screws with symmetry. Their same mounting system that makes drawer panels easy at 27" becomes a hindrance when applied on the 36" model. The panel's size and weight become unwieldy for one man and cumbersome for two. BSH's and Miele's hanging bracket arrangement is much more installer friendly - though neither has all drawer models.

todds - the FP drawer is a rare and quirky bird. Not a mainstream product and I have never been a fan of multipurpose machines - they never do anything well. Plus, what are you going to do with all the ice cream whn you switch it to a beverage drawer for the party???

These things sound good on paper but rarely work in practice. I have no long term experience with one so cannot comment with much depth or authority on it. I am glad it is in the marketplace though.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 1:55PM
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I only want to address the factual inaccuracies in your above comments (and, note: I've been VERY even handed on these boards, even recommending competitive brands when it is appropriate)

1) While I agree that adding the icemaker does reduce the capacity, the U-Line utilizes the entire bottom (please look at the shape of the lower drawer). This more than makes up for the loss of an icemaker assembly in the unit. That said, you are correct: if this is your primary freezer, it will probably not provide enough freezer space to meet needs

2a) While rear leveling legs are not available on the current 1000 and 2000 Series products, they have been incorporated in our new series of products. I hope this will assist in the installation

2b) The 2000 Series after the fact toekick integration is significantly better than virtually every other manufacturer (you bring up Sub Zero, which is fair). In the 3000 Series, this issue is eliminated with adjustable, integratable toekicks

2c) We actually went to the trouble of asking installers where they want the water hookup, and where they want the access for service (note: in general, if the hookup is in front, service is in the rear). It was almost a perfect 50/50 split as to preference with water line hookup. So, unfortunately, this is something that U-Line will be frustrating half of their customers regardless of where the hookup is

3) I would suggest you take a look at the panel installation instructions again, as there is no need for a 1/4" backer panel. As far as the gasket being done sloppily by an installer, I'm really not sure how an installer installing ANY unit sloppily wouldn't create issues down the road.

Finally, 100% of our units come out of the box with a mounting bracket, to prevent the movement of the unit. This began over 4 years ago, and is included in the bag that includes the installation manual.

Again, I try not to be biased, and I'm not going to argue who has the easiest or most difficult units to install. I just want to point out where there are factual inaccuracies being presented

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 9:31AM
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Thank you all for educating me. We finally went with a subzero as we had the 27 " and found one in a sale. I did go and try a perlick and was really impressed at how quiet it was and solidly constructed. Would have purchased if the price was better.

Now on to dishwashers..


    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 4:15AM
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Doug - nice job at deflecting or spin control.

This discussion was about drawer units and you still DO NOT HAVE a 3000 series drawer.

1. Using the ice maker in your (or any) combo drawer means you LOSE 1/2 of the storage in the lower freezer compartment because floor space is taken up by the ice bin. clever shelf design or not. It a zero sum equation. The space is fixed in your drawer and if I add the ice bit , I lose storage. Plain and simple. This is not limited to your product.

2a. yes, but on your drawer products this feature is not available, right ?

2b. Re: the toekick , being better than most is not the same as the best. On the drawers I still cannot easily put a toekick in front of the uline models and even on the 3000 series the DEPTH is still an issue.

Designers need a 3-4" depth from the face of the door/drawer panel to the face of the finished cabinetry toekick. If you don't have that amount, you don't have an appliance that can be fully integrated / concealed. Sorry.

2c. Fair enough on the hookup location.

3. Don't need to look at the instruction - I've got the units here. Your thin metal and cardboard backer on the 2000 series drawers is kinda a joke and a real pain to drill also. So much so that we end up ordering a 1/4" wood backer anyway, or the guys make one on site- which they are real happy about. I'm sure this is personal preference again.

However, what is not a preference is that one MUST remove the gaskets in order to access the mounting screws. Obviously a sloppy job is sloppy, but not having to fool with gaskets is a real good way to limit exposure to a lot of problems down the road.

Furthermore - there is still no easy adjustment for the panel. Removing the drawers and fiddiling with the runners is troublesome at best. Removing the entire assembly INCLD. the gasket again to move the panel mount screws is a royal PIA. When trying to align a series of drawers doors on an elevation to +/- 1 or 2mm this system get tiresome fast.

The mounting bracket is not the most attractive and cannot be concealed on the 20xx drawers. It's kinda like the brackets on a budget dishwasher.

If you guys want to play with the big boys in the concealed appliance arena, yor engineers need to devise a BUILT IN tab system like subzeros's or the ones from bosch/gaggenau/thermador & miele that can be covered with included trims that make them look like part of the unit's chassis.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 10:28PM
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Wow, lot's of information here! In 2004 I bought a Sub Zero, under the counter freezer for my newly remodeled kitchen. It is a chest type, 2 shelves. Unfortunately, the freezer isn't keeping things cold enough. Ice cream is very soft even with the freezer cranked up to max. cold. Defrosting is a pain, totally manual means emptying out the unit, loosen the ice with a hair dryer, scraping off ice chunks, letting the thing sit, turned off with the door open for several hours to get the ice in the metal coils? to melt. I could live with this mess, but like I said, it's not even cold enough to keep the ice cream semi-firm. So now I am looking to replace it. I like the idea of the drawer, but it does seem like there would be less space.

Summit makes a drawer freezer (link below). It is stainless steel and had 3 drawers. Not sure if that would mean less useable space. Manufacturer shows it as having 3.2 cu ft. The price seems to be about $1900. It is listed as a commercial unit.

Summit also makes a model ALF620 that has a door. What's different about this one from others I have seen is that there are 3 removable baskets that pull out. The price tag is between $700 and $950 depending on the model. It is a medical grade unit. It is only 32" high (instead of the 34").

So would both of these Summit units be noisy? I have just started on my quest for a replacement for the Sub Zero.

Here is a link that might be useful: Summit drawer freezer

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 8:01PM
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Would love to know how this worked out for anybody who bought the all refrigerator. What did you end up buying for a freezer and have you been happy with your choice?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 3:16PM
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